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Driving to France


ukdave104

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Hi guys "n" gals,

New to the forum so please forgive me if this question has been asked before...

We're (me and the wife)  driving to France in September and this will be the first time that we are taking our own car across there (have hired before)

Question....

I'll be taking original copies of all the vehicle documents but was wondering how many photo-copies should I take (just for security)

Also any tips on driving a RH drive vehicle in France?

TIA

Dave

 

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Watch out for roundabouts. The French of my age still believe in priority a droit so stop spontaniously to let people onto roundabouts. They also do not understand that a two lane wide roundabout is two lanes wide so you regularly find somebody entering in the right hand lane and going 270 degrees round so they turn left. Other than that watch out doing U turns which people tend to do in a figure of 8 if they are driving on the wrong side of the road.
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Expect inconsistency, what Anton describes about stopping on roundabouts does not happen in my area, or at least shall I say I have not witnessed it in over 2 years here. The bit about lane discipline yes.

But you haven't asked about these things as it's not your first time just first in RHD in which case I'd say the most crucial point is to not lose concentration and find yourself driving on the left. Sounds obvious I know but it's too easy to do and I'll bet there's hardly a one of us who hasn't made just the tiniest mistake in this regard beit driving LHD or RHD !

I'm not sure you need photocopies of anything but take a couple if it makes you feel more comfortable.

One unrelated tip which could save you a lot of grief in certain circumstances, before travelling scan your passports and driving licences WHY then email them to yourself. Even though they have no validity whatsoever if you lost yours or had them stolen or whatever then if you can get Internet access you at least have the copies which could give you a head start in getting replacements.

Have a safe holiday

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[quote user="Anton Redman"]Watch out for roundabouts. The French of my age still believe in priority a droit so stop spontaniously to let people onto roundabouts. They also do not understand that a two lane wide roundabout is two lanes wide so you regularly find somebody entering in the right hand lane and going 270 degrees round so they turn left. Other than that watch out doing U turns which people tend to do in a figure of 8 if they are driving on the wrong side of the road.[/quote]

In the big towns and cities roundabouts are mostly priority to the right and that is what confuses town dwellers in the country.  Yes as others have said , concentrate about keeping to the right its so easy to stray whilst on holiday, we have all done it.  Assume that every road on your right in towns and villages has priority unless you see a great yellow triangle or stop/give way signs on the other roads, if you see a red triangle with a black diagonal cross then they have got priority and will take it!! Above all be patient, overtaking in a RHD is difficult on most roads and unless you have a passenger you trust with your life just be patient and don't follow the French if they go on a mass overtake unless you can see what is coming yourself, also if someone overtakes you, ease off and pull back a car's length so they have an escape if they need one, whilst a lot of French drivers are experts at overtaking with so many two way roads, many take stupid risks and that is why its dangerous to close the gap!!

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This is the triangle and cross sign that Ron mentioned Road Rule

 

 

It may look as though it's simply warning of a cross-road (or even a level-crossing) but don't be fooled.  It means that you do not have priority.

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Take special care when ....

turning left at a T junction

leaving a garage forecourt/shop car park/picnic area/etc.

when setting off at the start of day

remember right is your new left!

... also, get used to the feeling of driving in the gutter.

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[quote user="lacote0_0"][quote user="g8vkv"]Take special care when ....

leaving a garage forecourt/shop car park/picnic area/etc.

[/quote]

I make it a rule always to use garages and parking spaces on the right hand side of the road.

[/quote]

Good advice - however ...

I once had a work colleague who left a (French) garage forecourt to continue 'right'. However, he was tired and flustered and was heading to turn right into the 'far' lane and looked right in the 'near' lane for oncoming traffic when exiting.

Both cars were written off, but luckily nobody was injured.

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[quote user="Clair"]Don't forget to carry your compulsory triangle and reflective vest in the car (not in the boot).

These might help:
http://www.securiteroutiere.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/Depliant_welcome_2007-08_cle5843be.pdf
http://www.securiteroutiere.gouv.fr/IMG/pdf/depliant-signalisation_cle7f65b3.pdf

http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/touring_tips/france-monaco.pdf

[/quote]

Many thanks too all the replies, some usefull stuff and links there.

A little confused about the warning triangle though. I know the hi-viz vest is to be kept in the car but I thought the warning triangle would be ok in tthe boot. Ah well, you learn something new every day. With regards to roundabouts, I thought priority was given to traffic coming from the left??

Cheers & beers

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[quote user="ukdave104"]

With regards to roundabouts, I thought priority was given to traffic coming from the left??

Cheers & beers

[/quote]

It is confusing.  The rule is that you have priority going onto a roundabout, except where marked.  Many roundabouts in the country and small towns have a notice that tells you that you do not have priority so you give way to the left.  Do that in Paris especially (the Arc de Triomphe roundabout is probably the best known example of this) and also Marseille, Lyons, Orleans, Rodez etc and you will get some really dirty looks from those behind you.

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Bit of an 'eats shoots and leaves' moment me thinks where the inserting of a comma would have altered the meaning,

'Don't forget to carry your compulsory triangle, and reflective vest in the car (not in the boot)'

The triangle can of course be in the boot but the vest is supposed to be available to don without exiting the vehicle. Actually I don't recall seeing any specific rules or advice about when it should be used, anybody ?

Roundabout priority is from the left it's just that unfortunately news travels exceedingly slow to some corners of France so not everybody has heard about it yet !

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[quote user="Ron Avery"][quote user="ukdave104"]

With regards to roundabouts, I thought priority was given to traffic coming from the left??

Cheers & beers

[/quote]

It is confusing. 

[/quote]

So why not make this less confusing......

The majority of roundabouts in France have a sign on your approach which says 'cedez le passage', so you give way to traffic already on the roundabout - as you do in the UK.  The exceptions to this are certain junctions (usually in towns) where traffic entering the roundabout  is given priority over those already on it in order assist traffic flow. 

If in doubt, just read the approach signs.

 

 

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[quote user="ErnieY"] the vest is supposed to be available to don without exiting the vehicle. Actually I don't recall seeing any specific rules or advice about when it should be used, anybody ? [/quote]

The high visibility safety vest must be worn by a driver before he

exits a vehicle immobilised on or by  the roadside in response to an

emergency.

(http://www.completefrance.com/cs/forums/1415110/ShowPost.aspx)

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Does say stopping for a passenger suffering from travel sickness to upchuck qualify. An definite emergency for the person affected but in such a circumstance the driver may well not exit the vehicle so should the ill passenger don it - whilst holding back his/her upchuck of course, would kinda defeat the object of stopping otherwise [:'(]

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Earnie, I was under the impression that there only need be one vest, for the driver? In Spain there should be one for each person in the car but not here? If this is not correct then I would be glad to be told.

We always carry 2 vests in the door pockets and not like the prats wot put them over the seats to show they have them. Apparently they are often a target for the nick nicks who would like to know why they don't want to be stopped?

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I was being facetious JJ.

As Clair says "the high visibility safety vest must be worn by a driver before he

exits a vehicle".

I wonder though if drivers of RHD cars should be exempt but their front seat passenger assume the obligation [Www]

Only rambling [:D][:D][:D]

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UKDave

Another danger moment is joining an empty highway after you have been driving down a quiet country lane. You can easily drop back into UK mode while on an unmarked narrow road and your brain will then tell you to rejoin the highway on the left hand side...

If you have a passenger, it's a good idea to brief him/her on the danger points mentioned in this thread as he/she might be alert when you are not.

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My experience of driving in France is that:

drivers keep to the speed limit more

there is less traffic

road signs are taken account of - ie the ones telling people that they do not have right of way

Overtaking is more tricky and does need the services of the passenger at times. Golden rule - if in doubt don't.

I now drive about 11,000 miles in France and 14,000 in the UK. In either country I sometimes find myself thinking 'where am I, which side of the road should I drive on'.

As for yellow vests, I have them inside the car, enough for all seats and luckily have never had to use them (why did I write that you wait for our next trip). However, the number of motorists I have seen stopped on the Autoroutes not wearing them far outnumber those who do.

I also decided to be ready for anything, including ventruing in to Spain etc so carry two triangles, snow chanins, first aid kit and set of bulbs.

Paul

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Not really a RHD specific query, but I do find it confusing in towns whare it appears that when arriving at a T-junction you have priority over traffic from the left, but not from the right.

And yes, despite regular visits to France in both L and RHDs, I have still found myself on the "wrong" side of the road on the odd occassion. 

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Thanks for all the replies on this suject.

Next question......We'll be driving through France on a Sunday, so I was wondering about the number of service stations that would be open for fuel on a Sunday. I know years ago almost all used to be shut on a Sunday but what about nowadays?....the last think I want is to run out of fuel when we're half way across

TIA

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On the peage all should be open and virtually all will accept UK debit/credit cards now too.

Off the beaten track just about every Leclerc, Champion (now Carrefour) or Intermarche will have a self service card pump and again most now seem to take UK cards but my advice would be to not let yourself run that low that a refusal would be a problem.

At the end of the day there is always the good old standby of asking a native to pay with his card and you pay him in cash.

Have a sfe trip and BTW, it's Sunday today !

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